In recent years we have witnessed that whilst the number of fires has declined, the cost of them has risen. In 2008, UK insurers were paying out £3.6m every day to pay for fire damage. It’s hardly surprising that in the same year, it was estimated that fires cost the UK economy £8.3 billion.
Government and businesses spend less on fire safety
What has threatened to be a triple dip recession has got business owners everywhere tightening their budgets. And it seems that when cutting costs, everyone turns to fire safety.
The economy makes it even more important to prevent a fire. They are one of the most costly and wasteful things that can ever happen to a business.
There are more fires during a recession
Ironically, there is a historical link between the recession and certain types of crime. During recessions, malicious arson attacks increase.
But worryingly, it’s not just business owners who feel that less should be spent on fire safety. The fire service is continually being undermined by sector cut-backs.
In April 2013, West Midlands Fire Service announced that 34 firefighter’s jobs were to be axed. This came after the recent Smurfit Kappa paper mill fire that blazed for days and brought 100 firefighters onsite.
Most businesses never recover from a fire
2004 saw The Chief Fire Officers’ Association (CFOA) estimate that 60% of private businesses never recover from a fire.
The loss of data, working hours and replacement materials are simply too much for many businesses to contend with, especially at a time when the economy is rocky to say the least.
Following a fire, buildings are checked to see if the building has complied with the relevant guidelines. If they fail this check, businesses may not be eligible for insurance claims to be approved.
Wider costs of a fire
Of course, each fire also has a knock on effect on the economy of the individual and local community.
A severe fire at Daw Mill coal mine in Birmingham continued blazing long after it began in February 2013. This incident forced the company to put 400 miners out of work. The effect of those redundancies to the local economy and the workers’ household incomes is phenomenal.
Businesses fail to spend on fire safety
Despite the overwhelming evidence that suggests fire safety is more important than ever during a recession, the government have still made cut backs, setting the example for businesses.
In March 2013, DM Care Limited was ordered to pay a total of £40,375 after being prosecuted for the non-compliance of fire safety regulations. This was actually the second time they were prosecuted in a 12 month period.
Surely it makes sense for those in business and the government to invest more in fire safety, rather than less.
Clandon Park House was destroyed by a fire, fortunately there were no injuries but there was an insurance claim for Zurich estimated to be £65 million.
When builders don’t check the work
We constantly find faulty installations of materials used in the ‘Fire compartmentation’ designed into the fabric of a building, making them non-compliant buildings. Most of the buildings we look at have incorrect products installed, or sometimes, the correct products…installed wrongly.
An excerpt from page 52 of Dame Judith Hackitt’s Interim Report from December 18th 2017 reads ‘Work undertaken via the competent person schemes can impact negatively on fire safety – particularly around breaches of compartmentation and fire stopping materials. This can be caused by those undertaking the work simply not understanding the knock-on consequences of their work.’
Do the math…and see the problem
If a fire stopping company has 30 installers, who install 20 pieces of fire stopping work each day, 5 days a week – That’s 3000 items a week…or 36,000 items a quarter. Much of the work is above ceiling grids, beyond the watchful eye of a busy supervisor. Whilst we recommend the use of a 3rd Party accreditation service, their inspectors will visit ‘up to 4 times a year’ to ‘ensure the work is of a suitable standard’. Can they check 36,000 items on their quarterly one day site visit?